Monday, May 30, 2011

Richmond Alley Romps, Redux

More photographs of my journey down to Richmond a few weeks back will be posted, mostly of fried and buttered foods that I consumed; until then, here is the complement session to my flailing modeling in my dear friend Katherine's alley way. She looks more acclimated to the surrounding area, less skittish, more sure of herself. All facetiousness and self-deprecation aside, Katherine and I always have a grand and howling time together, whether it be in a swanky Southern hotel bar, which is where we went following this photo shoot attempt, or a gravel-resplendent alley behind a row of homes.

Katherine is sporting a short eggplant romper, cinched at the waist with a black leather belt; in the Richmond muggy heat, rompers are ideal and easy, both in terms of wear and accessorizing. I have a few rompers, which I enjoy wearing strolling along the beach or lazing and reading at the pool.

A collection of elephant tusks, dangling from a gold metal chain. Ivory and gold together are one of my favorite color combinations, especially for the summer months. Katherine is a jewelry designer, and specifically studied design while at university, so she has a great eye for pieces, or for parts that can be altered to create a new, more beautiful whole. As a dedicated activist always watching out for our beautiful Mother Earth, Katherine enjoys using recycled and re-purposed materials in her own jewelry; more details on some of her own work to come.

Katherine and Diana attended a craft party recently, where the group used a variety of fabric paints and different styles of shoes to add some flair and color to some cheap finds. I believe Katherine originally found these plain espadrille wedges at Old Navy for quite a bargain, and used blue, yellow, indigo, and forest green to make them unique.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Casual Friday: Mah Jong and Hula Hoop

My work week was a bit interrupted with an overnight business trip; details to be further disclosed with paired photographic documentation. With the success of my trip, and planning for an impending sojourn back in the Land of Pleasant Living, to celebrate my sister's birthday and marriage, again, more details to ensue, Friday flew by quickly, and notably unproductively, in the office. Although I would have preferred to have spent Friday afternoon lazing in the sun, or perhaps hula hooping in these candy yellow snake skin pattern heels, I did manage to have a date night after hours, and dine en plein air.

Both the fish skeleton and the turquoise and silver beaded necklaces belonged to my grandmother, who my siblings and I named Meemaw, for lack of pronunciation and enunciation skills as young children. I enjoy wearing them layered together, and like how the long chain and lengths complement the soft scoop neck of this striped tee shirt. The bracelet is made of antique Mah Jong beads, which are carved from bone, the original creature housing the flesh-carrying skeleton is a mystery to me; the bracelet was a gift to me from my mother, and one that has gone unworn for quite some time. I would like to ameliorate that, as the cream and the primary colors of the etchings are both beautiful and versatile.

Finding heels that are comfortable for a day of work, even sitting hunched in front of a computer, can be both frustrating and trying; these have a thicker shape to them and are a nice height, probably less than three inches. With my slate gray cigarette pant slacks and my muted gray and soft cream top, having this pop of yellow added some sunshine to my look, matching the beauty of yesterday morning and afternoon.

On another note, there are few greater things in life than concluding a long week with an outdoor dinner, a bottle of chianti, and beautiful conversation with my filmmaker. We are both avowing to devote more time to our writing, and included in that submission of our writing to be considered for publication; he is a great source of inspiration and encouragement for me. Maybe we will hear some good news within the next few months; if no, perseverance, and onward we go.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Richmond Romps: Alley Style

Last weekend while in Richmond, my dear, lovely friend Katherine and I performed some quick poses and snapped a few shots outside of her apartment, in a scenic local alleyway, before heading out for happy hour Manhattans with our mutual friend, Diana. The results, particularly on my end of the modeling, were rather goofy at best, but sometimes, or frankly most times, goofy giggling and glee with an old girlfriend is precisely what the body and mind need.

Traveling down south on bus, I packed only a single of shoes, to be completely practical; Katherine was kind enough to permit me to borrow a pair of cherry red patent leather wedges for the evening. They matched my new red lipstick very well. Later that evening, rather early morning, my lipstick color garnered an enthusiastic compliment from a long-haired, pony-tail sporting bar proprietor; the South is indeed more friendly.

The Cole Haan bag is one of my life staples: elegant, versatile, practical, beautifully designed. It was an excellent purchase; I used a company holiday gift card and got this big ticket handbag for quite a steal.

This cream dress features secret side pockets; I rarely use them, however, I relish in knowing the opportunity exists. I would love if my own apartment parking lot featured a lounging hammock for anyone in need of a lazy afternoon.

Outfit for a Wednesday: Loose Knit

Yesterday, after a full day of work, I was being driven from my office to a soon to be disclosed, glamorous, highway-chic location for a next day early morning client meeting; knowing I would be spending about three hours in the car traversing small towns, with my boss, I decided to wear something comfortable. Thankfully, during my recent travels down to Richmond, I stopped in an Ann Taylor Loft store, where in previous years I had served as a notably unique and successful sales associate, and found some great sale pieces. Having spent many hours of my early college year breaks circling the floor at Loft, listening to a loop of the same twenty easy listening rock and pop songs for the month soundtrack, I have not been inclined to peruse their wares more recently. In general, this is a fine decision, as the color palette is frequently off balance and the fabric choices are synthetic more often than is desirable, although Loft has recently been re-branding their personality and inventory in a significant manner. Despite these falterings in color and fabric choices, Loft has occasional exceptional weekend and career clothing, as well as wonderful sales.

This cream and navy loose knit broad striped sweater was on final marked down sale, and I snagged it for 19$; it requires a camisole underneath, due to the style of knit, however, basic white or cream are not noticeable. The camel toned pencil skirt I paired with my new sweater is an absolute closet staple, especially for the warmer seasons; I wear this skirt with cardigans, button-downs of cotton or linen, or even an embellished simple cotton blouse-like tee shirt. Light weight combined with soft texture and warm color means this skirt will be in intense rotation the impending humid summer months.

The filmmaker shot these images with a fancy photograph filter; as much as I wish my legs were veritably this color after the long and brutal winter months, they simply are not, and I would feel guilty and disingenuous if I perpetuated that hoax. My shoes were another pair passed onto me by my mother; her propensity for buying heels, even low and relatively comfortable ones such as these, and finding them a burden means that I can reap all the benefits.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Outfit for a Tuesday: Open-Toed Heels for Ambiguous Weather

Dressing appropriately during transitional weather seasons is almost impossible; lately, there are a number of flowing dresses, skirts, linen blouses, and the like that I have wanted to pull out of the depths of my closet, dust off, and parade about in. Unfortunately, rain has dampened these plans. Yesterday, I aired on the side of caution, planning my outfit according to the rain, mostly, with a light sweater and long slacks, finished with a silk scarf. By quitting time, I was more than mildly surprised the a slow spring heat had dissipated the falling dew, and the air was hanging muggy and moist; the geographically characteristic humidity has arrived. Thankfully, I was at least a bit prepared: despite my long sleeves and full pants, I was weather carefree with my shoes.

This sweater dress is perfect for a night out and about on the town; for the office, it is entirely too short and too fitted, especially without tights. I had worn it once before, paired with a tuxedo jacket and some thick opaque black tights. This time, I tucked the sweater dress into a pair of loose, cleanly tailored black dress pants. The pants have a slight crease running down the front of each leg, however, feature no additional adornments or embellishments by way of pockets, stitching, piping, and the like; as the sweater is rather busy, in an optical illusion type of way, combining it with a simple bottom provided the most polished and elegant look.

This black, cream, and gold scarf is a highly versatile accessory; with the amount of black clothing I own, it is an easy addition to spruce up an otherwise rather plain and simple look. Here, I enjoy the contrast of the fabric textures, as well as the contrast of the sharp black and white stripes with the bold checkered look and golden festoons.

My golden barbed wire bracelet has become a wardrobe staple since I purchased it last late summer and I sometimes wonder if it grows trite with its use, however, with its edginess and with the interplay of harsh, brutal metal and smooth lucite, I cannot imagine tiring of it and retiring it. The large pearl globes encased in the black and gold earrings are also a wonderful versatile piece of jewelry, again complementing all the black in my wardrobe as well as many bold colors: reds, blues, creams, violets, peach.

Open-toed heels are an easy method to marry what may be construed as more winter appropriate slacks or jackets or cardigans with the tempestuous and haughty humid transitional months here in the area. The heel height is perfect for allowing a longer, more flowing dress slack, but not overly extreme so as to be uncomfortable as I travel through my office, to the kitchen area for more coffee, to the conference rooms for meetings, to the other desks of my colleagues.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Iconography: Anouk Aimee

I spent the weekend with two of my best and dearest friends in Richmond, Virginia, a town of hospitality and a genteel nature, a town of warm greetings and warm winds, warm suns, a town where cooking is never scant on the good things in this transient mortal world: butter, pork belly, bourbon. As I traveled back north yesterday afternoon, to lands above the Mason Dixon, I was welcomed by what have become near daily fixtures: dark and looming clouds, bitter skies. The Rapture, so it seems, has come and gone, leaving a smear of comedic refuge in the realm of public consciousness, but on days like this, I feel an overwhelming sense of ominous treachery and would love nothing more than to cover my body in jewels and soft furs. Naturally, even in this state of agony, burdened with sisyphean toils, the sun unrelenting in its coy nature, to be calmed only by sensual pleasures of soft fur, cold and hard jewels, I would love my hair to be so expertly coiffed and manicured.

(image taken from The Impossible Cool)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lustrous Layering and Rendez-vous with Julia

Last week, I had a few days where I woke up without a single idea of what to cover my body with, not a practical idea, not a creative idea. As I scrambled around my bedroom in the morning, attempt to concoct something somewhat decent, I decided to accent a silver hued, cotton tee shirt blouse, worn with dark charcoal dress slacks, with layers of necklaces. Since I was sticking within the silver and gray monochrome, I wanted some necklaces that would create an iridescence, while maintain the muted color tone, so I chose a vintage crystal double-stranded piece and a string of pearls.

One of my favorite heavy opaque silver lucite bangles completed the look.

To be frank, I had completely forgotten about this particular pair of shoes until that very morning; with warming weather, I welcomed the open-toed look and since I paired them with a pair of well tailored dress slack, did not feel I was overstepping the bounds of business casual. The heel is medium in height, which can be difficult to find, and a great tapered thickness, giving an elegance to the bold inlay of black and gray.

That evening, I was fortunate enough to dash from work early and saunter into the city, to share drinks and dinner with one of my dear childhood friends, Julia, before she heads out of the country to Italy, where she will be attending graduate school in gastronomy, anthropology, and communication. Julia, though she may not have the same view, took some lemons, skipped the lemonade, and shook up a nice cold lemon drop cocktail: her contacts ripped, so she donned much needed and yet stylish heavy frames, and she was without blow dryer, thus the turban to contain unruly hair. Overall, the aesthetic edge came completely from pragmatism.

Julia and I met up with a few of her other friends, lovely girls she met while interning on a farm in Tuscany, bathing in wine and fresh olive oil; tough life she leads. We went to Little Branch in the West Village for a quick libation, then headed to a nearby restaurant called Home, which pioneered the now viral local, seasonal ingredients movement, a number of decades ago, according to our bohemian middle-aged waiter. I cannot wait to meet up with Julia over in Italy; I hope to make the journey sometime in the autumn, perhaps late September.

Julia has recently started her own blog documenting her gastronomical fancies, fantasies, and realities; you read about her Italian travels and experiences at: a tomato, an adventure (right here on blogspot).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Black Celebration and Big Red

On Saturday evening, after a rainy and gloomy day filled with waffles for lunch and lounging in bed, the filmmaker and I sauntered over to a nearby neighborhood casual bar, to watch my alma mater lacrosse team play in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Lacrosse, both playing and watching, has always been an integral part of my interests, namely my interest in the physicality of the human body, its limits and its extremes. It is an exciting, fast, and skillful game, so it is a joy to play and an exhilaration to watch. Spending a predominance of his youth in the Midwest, where lacrosse has only in recent years spread, the filmmaker does not share my inherent passion, but accompanied me nonetheless and asked thoughtful questions to learn more about the sport and my favorite team.

Ranked number two entering the preliminary tournament match, Cornell trounced Hartford, a small liberal arts university in the northeast, out pacing their amateur players to loose balls, aggressively checking and defending their goal, and shooting rocket power shots at the opponent's goal. The Big Red painted the field in hawk blood. Confident that my team would prevail, I was able to celebrate the victory for the rest of the evening.

Unfortunately, I do not own many red pieces of clothing, but had decided to instead keep my team spirit in my heart and re-purpose this black and white kaleidoscope dress instead. An older member of my closet, I have not worn this dress in ages, because I recently discovered a small oil stain near the hem, the origin of which remains a total mystery. Though I have attacked this inconvenience with an arsenal of stain solutions, it has persisted, thrived, apparently also intent on remaining victorious.

Since I love the silken texture of the dress and the pattern, with its rays that emanate out from a single point, as opposed to immediately discarding it, I decided to wear the number yet again, as a top tucked into these black tailored shorts.

Heavy plastic bangles in black and white serve as perfect accessories for this bi-chromatic look.

In the evenings, the temperature continues to dip more toward the freezing point than is desired, so footless tights with skirts, or in this case shorts, have become a wardrobe staple.

As I was dancing around with my clothes and my make-up, forgoing heavy eyeshadow in favor of a single line of deep plum purple eyeliner on my lower lid, the filmmaker and I were listening to the Depeche Mode album 101, their live performance at the Rose Bowl stadium; incredible document of their god-like musical capabilities.

Before heading out and about on the town, during the lounging phase of the day, I was honored and privileged, when the filmmaker shared with me his thesis film. I will not bring his film to the state of some paltry thing here with my words, but will say that it was beautiful, intelligent, coherent, structured yet fluid, and of great interest.

These earrings are some of the first pairs of clip-ons I have ever owned, and are probably from when I was in high school. The triangle shape is rather unique for clip-ons; many are round.

This vintage handbag was a bargain purchase: it is actually three different styles of handbag in one. I am using the black patent leather purse, however, the outer layer can be removed to reveal a black fabric purse in the center and then the extra outer layer can be reversed, for a floral carpet fabric look. Generally, I stick with the patent leather, but it is great to have options.

Giraffe Garnish and Pesto Pasta

A lemon drop for Thursday evening, decorated with a jaunty plastic giraffe.

One of the filmmaker's drawings; I have amassed quite the gallery of them.

spears of asparagus
large red pepper
goat's milk ricotta
pesto (this time, I used store bought, which was fresh and delicious, as well as a welcome time saver)
penne, or other noodle shape of preference (though, the penne has a great texture and firmness)
Italian sausage
salt and pepper
olive oil

Basically, all of the above ingredients can be combined in whatever proportion seems appropriate, depending on the size of the crowd, from a solitary party to a whole crew. First, I sauteed the asparagus and red pepper; in retrospect, some onion would have been a great addition, but my grocery store excursion on Thursday evening was harried and I forgot. Simultaneously, for the most part, I cooked the Italian sausage; generally, I will cut into the links into coins so that meat will be well incorporated. Meanwhile, on the stove my pasta water was boiling away.

When the pasta finishes cooking and is still warm, add the vegetables, sausage, and a copious amount of ricotta. Lastly, add some pesto, again, to taste, and depending on the size of the group.

Next time, sun dried tomatoes may be making an appearance as well.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Casual Friday: Chambray Shirt-Dress

Given my propensity to don over-sized men's shirt, particularly for the weekend, to romp and frolic, when I saw this chambray shirt dress last season at Gap, it was an obvious and easy addition to my closet; the soft material combined with a collar and key drawstring belt lend this dress a comfortable yet sleek look. Having a plethora of dresses at my service has imbued me with further creativity, as opposed to laziness and lackadaisical attitude: although they can be thrown one and worn as a single piece, I like to accessorize with new and different pieces to establish a different feel and some variety.

Foolishly, I went without tights this morning, bold, with my bare legs and high boots, only to be tricked, as usual, by the weather. The sun, and its warmth, decided to adopt a certain subtle coyness, sneak behind thick clouds, forgoing the wanton attention and mischief bestowed upon the earth earlier this week.

The darker cognac and mahogany leather of these boots is beautiful, as is the shape and structure. Despite being markedly not inexpensive, however, soon after purchasing them, and after a single wearing, the soles decided to collapse and deteriorate, which was more than disappointing when still love-drunk with a new pair of leather riding boots. I had them repaired by a local Italian shoesmith, to no true avail. They are wearable, and so I do bring them out to trot about on occasion, but for the most part, I feel betrayed by this brand.

Instead of my typical knot, I decided to wear my silk scarf as a sort of cowboy tie, with this brown stone vintage brooch as a sort of bolo. I am, generally, pleased with the effect, and the new found use for some of my larger, more decadent brooches, which can be difficult to pin as they tear delicate cloth. With quite the arsenal of both scarves and brooches, this look will be repeated for other neutral clothing pieces.

I found this brass cuff at an antique store in Ithaca; based on the uneven edges and almost medieval peasant-like craftsmanship, I believe the cuff was hand made, perhaps by a local artisan. With so many of my pieces being costume jewelry, resplendent with rhinestones and other nonsense, the earthen nature of this cuff is a different and fresh look, and though not something I would necessarily wear daily, a type of diamond in the rough, to speak in cliches, which I am thankful to have discovered.